Israeli Woman Who Refused to Serve in Army Discharged After 110 Days in Prison

Atalia Ben-Abba, 19, released on the grounds of unsuitability after a ruling that she was not a pacifist

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

A 19-year-old woman who served four stints in military prison after refusing to be inducted into the Israeli army was discharged on Tuesday after spending 110 days behind bars.

Atalia Ben-Abba’s release came on the grounds that she was unfit for army service. She is the third woman to be discharged from the Israel Defense Forces over the past year after refusing to serve.

On Monday, a panel that handles cases involving conscientious objectors declined to release Ben-Abba from the army for reasons of conscience, finding that she was not a pacifist.

In her appearance before the panel to determine if her refusal to serve was motivated by pacifist beliefs or political motives, she was asked whether she would prefer a draft exemption or an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The panel ruled that her refusal was not due to pacifism because she replied that she would prefer an end to the occupation.

Ben-Abba also wrote a letter to the panel stating that she refused “to be part of a system that hurts millions of people on the false justification of security.”

Ben-Abba said upon leaving prison: “The army can call the exemption it gave me by any name it likes, but in practice it’s an exemption I was given for my simple refusal to participate in a system that uses violent means to oppress another people, imposing an occupation on it for the past 50 years.”

In contrast with Ben-Abba’s case, about three months ago Tamar Ze’evi – who also refused to perform army service – was discharged for reasons of conscience after spending 115 days in military jail.

Another woman, Tamar Alon, was discharged on grounds of unsuitability after 130 days in military detention.

The three received the support of Mesarvot, a group supporting draft resisters.